In order to meet modern demands for the further advancement of biotechnology and life sciences, the OECD in 2001 introduced a new concept of repositories and providers of high-quality biological materials and information: Biological Resource Centres (BRCs). BRCs are considered to be one of the key elements for sustainable international scientific infrastructure, which is necessary to underpin successful delivery of the benefits of biotechnology, whether within the health sector, the industrial sector or other sectors, and in turn ensure that these advances help drive growth.
As a step forward, in 2001 experts from OECD countries came together and agreed a consensus report that called upon national governments to undertake a number of actions to bring the BRC concept into being in concert with the international scientific community.
A 2007 report presents the outcome of discussions held by the OECD member countries, together with a number of key partner countries, under the auspices of an expert Task Force established by the OECD Working Party on Biotechnology, following recommendations made in the 2001 report. Specifically, a series of best practices for BRCs were developed in extensive consultation with the scientific community. These best practices are intended to serve as a target for the quality management of collections, and are meant to provide guidance for those that seek to improve the quality of BRCs. Achieving the levels of quality associated with full compliance with these best practices should be regarded as the pinnacle of success.
Many BRCs are entrusted with the maintenance and exchange of hazardous biological resources. Society confers trust in BRCs as custodians of such materials, demanding that responsibility be taken for their safe use. The OECD's 2007 Best Practice Guidelines on Biosecurity for BRCs describe the methods and protocols for secure maintenance and provision of biological materials.